Saturday, May 27, 2006

Forbidden Island Wildlife

I jazzed this post up for the RC&D blog. It has a more professional feel to it (I hope). The directions to getting to Forbidden Island are posted there. Click HERE to visit the RC&D blog.

Nature Boy? So now I'm Nature Boy? I request that I be the one who posts the pictures of the crabs and other animals and now this! If that's the case then...well, let's not even go there.

Just kidding.

Yesterday's hike down to Forbidden Island rocked my universe. There ended up being six of us who hiked down. Here we are in full color:

Hoover has requested that I not post his mug on this blog. No problem, Hoove. He took this photo of everyone else who hiked down to Forbidden Island. We're standing on a lookout that is about half way down the trail. From left to right we have Emily, Angelo (flashing Blue Steel for some reason), Dee, Scott, and Joe. Dee works for CRM and her husband Scott just moved out here last Friday. Scott's looking for a job, so if you're hiring...well, give him a call or something. Joe is working with the AGO for the summer and he just got here Tuesday. We met when he left a comment on my blog a few days ago. Joe has a blog, too. Click HERE to read Joe's blog.

Yesterday was the new moon, so the tide was at its lowest point in a month. It was so low that we were able to cross the channel to Forbidden Island without getting our feet wet. It was also so low that we were able to go snorkeling OUTSIDE the reef without putting our lives in danger.

More on that later. Here are some photos from the tide pools immediately around Forbidden Island and from the top of the island:

This octopus crawled out of the waves and wiggled its way up on to the rocks.

As soon as he crawled out of the sun onto some shaded rocks he changed colors. How frickin' cool is that! You can see that he was kind of small. He's got a few years until a local fisherman turns him into octopus kelaguen.

There were a bunch of these tasty morsels stuck to various rocks in the tidepools. The shell looks very similar to the shell that the crab with the blue legs in the second photo is living in, but there is no crab living inside this shell. The animal that lives inside this shell is called aliling locally or trochus in English. It is a kind of sea snail. Trochus are very tasty, but unfortunately they are endangered. There is currently a CNMI-wide ban on harvesting them...but I've still seen people eating it at parties and bbqs...I guess no one told them that you're not supposed to eat endangered species.

This is the cliff that we hiked up to get to the top of Forbidden Island. That is Hoover in the distance. You can use him to judge for youself how high and steep the hike up there can be.

The top of the island is mostly grass with absolutely no trees. Brown and Black Noddies use the cliff and the grass for nests. There were eggs everywhere. It was like the Easter Bunny got lost and left his eggs all over Forbidden Island.

I know that pictures of eggs aren't very exciting, but you know what happens to those eggs, right? They hatch baby noddies! We probably saw about 20 hatchlings running around the island. They were afraid of us, but my trusty Canon S2 has a 48x zoom, so I didn't have to get too close to get a good shot.

One of the baby noddies tried to hide from us by sticking his head in a hole:

He wasn't too successful. There was another hole on the other side of the rock:


The only threat to the noddy eggs and hatchlings are poachers and rats. There are so many rats on the top of Forbidden Island that they have worn out 3 inch wide trails criss crossing through the grass. It takes a lot of rats to do something like that (sorry, no pictures of the rat trails). The other potential threat is the brown tree snake (boiga irregularis). Can you imagine what a field day a snake would have on a grass field littered with eggs and baby birds?

The view from the top of the island was great, too.

From the top of the island, looking down into the water, we could see hundreds of HUGE fish:

More on the fish later. Scott brough an underwater camera. If I can get him to give me a few of his pictures, I'll put them in a later post.

This is the view from the Eastern end of the island. Beyond this point there is just thousands of miles of open ocean.

The final critter in this post is going to be a Pacific Reef Heron:

This guy was fishing in the shallow tide pools while we were snacking on Cheez-Its and drinking beer. We had an argument over what type of bird he was. I looked him up when I got home. Turns out we were all wrong.


joe said...

Great photos! I think I would have been a little freaked out by the spiders though.

Joe said...

What's up with Hoover. Is he in some sort of witness protection program?

cicero frank said...

hey can you tell me how to get to the forbidden islands? I think that I might want to hike up there sometime. My email address is bae1985 at Thanks.

Saipan Chamoale said...

Go to the RC&D blog anything and everything you would ever want to know about Forbidden Island.

hoover said...

first off, no im not in the witness protection program. im just SOO famous i don't need any more recognition. LOL!

secondly, angelo you were actually correct in our argument over the bird. herons and egrets are the same, common names have no standing when it comes to taxomony ... the Pacific Reef Heron's scientic name is Egretta sacra so you were correct with the identification as "egret."

Lastly, you've been linked on my Xanga ... both the RC&D website and this little blog. FAMOUS!

You should try to get a hold of Scott and Dee and see if they want to meet at either your place or OLEAI to swap pics on Wednesday. I was thinking Oleai because free WIFI, good drinks, and great place to watch a sunset!

let me know -- keep in touch.

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe said...

I think wednesday is Oceans night but let me know if you decide to go to Oleai

Saipan Chamoale said...

Oh yeah, sorry Hoover, Wednesday IS for Ocean's. I'll give you a call.